Sunday, September 08, 2019

a+t 16

a+t 16: Memory I
Aurora Fernández Per, Javier Mozas (Editors)
a+t, 2000

Paperback | 9-1/4 x 12-1/2 inches | 160 pages | Spanish/English | ISSN: 1132-6409 | 22.00 €

Publisher Description:
Consider for a moment opening one's eyes wiithout memory or memories; without an understanding of one's environment, without an awareness of one's individuality, without a conception of one's being and without an appreciation of one's history. What is it one would see, hear and feel? What would be the sensation? Surely, to instantaneously re-initalise one's existence without the cushion of gestation would result in confusion to say the least, an agonising over-simulation most probably and no solace in nostalgia for the womb.

Memories of where one has been, of journeys an of participants, leave a particular perspective but they only 'exist' in perspective too. It is not possible to grasp memory in terms of appreciation an recollection any more than it is possible to mentally recreate an event in its entiirety.

Only memories give us a sense of time, a sense of space and a sense of society. However, whilst individual an collective memories can generate open-ended discussion, an understanding of memory itself enables confidence to embark towards a partial understanding without preconceptions or an expectation of fulfilment.
dDAB Commentary:
Recently reviewing Non-Referential Architecture, the book "ideated" by Swiss architect Valerio Olgiati and written by Markus Breitschmid prompted me to recall when I first became familiar with Olgiati. Having written on my blog since early 1999, I can pinpoint it exactly: to the 16th issue of a+t, Memory I. That issue, which is also the first issue of a+t I purchased, has Olgiati's Yellow House in Flims, Switzerland, among around a dozen buildings and projects aligned with the issue's theme. I subsequently wrote on my blog about Yellow House, a very un-yellow building owned by Olgiati's father, Rudolf, an architect who donated the house to Flims as a cultural center. Valerio restored and renovated the building, whitewashing the stone exterior to give it its ghostly presence in the middle of town; no wonder it's in a+t's first of two Memory issues.

This issue begins, not with architecture, but with portraits: of people in Mali photographed by Seydou Keïta, of people in Germany captured by August Sander, and of industrial structures famously shot by Bernd and Hilla Becher (first spread below). With texts by Xavier Gonzalez, an editor at a+t, the portraits explore the role of photography in cultural memory. The buildings and projects that follow tend toward renovations, be it of a single building as in Yellow House, or a whole complex as in the Zollverein mining complex in Germany. A couple buildings in Japan (both new buildings, not restorations, and both most likely encountered by the editors on their 1995 trip documented in a+t's recent Japan Diaries) take a different approach: the Hiroshige Ando Museum and Takayanagi Community Center, both designed by Kengo Kuma, are contemporary buildings with traditional forms and materials. Combined with the other projects, memory is presented as a diverse area for exploration by architects willing to consider the past as much as the future.

Author Bio:
Aurora Fernández Per is Publisher and Editor in Chief of a+t architecture publishers, and architect Javier Mozas is Editorial Advisor.
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